On the morning of Friday, September 4th I was lying in bed, miserable with the flu. Outside the window I noticed a Little Wattlebird flying busily backwards and forwards building a nest next to the trellis where the clematis grows. It was very cheering and entertaining.
Little Wattlebirds are not that little. Wattlebirds are medium to large honeyeaters. Compared to other species of wattlebirds, the Little Wattlebird is the smallest.
It was a clever place to situate the nest, because from the street and garden it's invisible. But what she didn't realize was its proximity to human habitation, and the human comings and goings.
She was skittish and didn't trust us humans. Often when the window or door was opened she would fly away, up into a nearby tree. She was tense, watching and waiting until the coast was clear so she could return to her nest. I worried she might abandon the nest, or that the eggs be harmed if they were not kept warm all the time. But over time, over a few weeks, she seemed to get used to us, and often stayed where she was, ignoring the noise and movement below.
Little Wattlebirds are very common in Melbourne gardens. It's the female who builds and sits on the eggs, but when the eggs hatch the male helps to care for the chicks.
The sound they make is not lovely. It's not a warble, not a trill, a harsh sound. Apparently it has been known to infuriate people and disturb their sleep.
Then, suddenly she wasn't there any more. It appeared that she had abandoned the nest.
I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to watching the chicks hatch, feed, grow and eventually leave the nest. Why did she abandon the nest? Maybe the mother bird met with a sticky end. Maybe for some reason the eggs weren't viable. Maybe she decided it wasn't a safe location after all. There's no way of knowing for sure.
That's nature, not always nice. The nest is empty, the eggs abandoned.